Ben (album)

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Ben
Studio album by Michael Jackson
Released August 4, 1972
Recorded November 1971 – February 1972
Genre R&B, soul
Length 31:31
Label Motown
Producer Hal Davis, The Corporation, Byhal Davis, Berry Gordy, Jr., Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Bobby Taylor
Michael Jackson chronology
Got to Be There
(1971)
Ben
(1972)
A Collection of Michael Jackson's Oldies
(1972)
Alternative cover
Alternative cover for Ben.
Singles from Ben
  1. "Ben"
    Released: July 12, 1972

Ben is the second studio album by American recording artist Michael Jackson. The album was released on August 4, 1972, while Jackson was still a member of The Jackson 5. The album received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. Ben was more successful on music charts than Jackson's previous studio album, having charted within the top ten on the Billboard 200. Internationally, the album was less successful, peaking at number twelve in Canada, while charting within the top 200 positions in Australia and France.

Worldwide, Ben has sold a reported 5 million units. The album released one single, the title track "Ben", which was a commercial success on music charts, topping both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Australian ARIA charts, giving Jackson his first Number One single, domestically and internationally. "Ben" also charted within the top ten in other territories worldwide. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was planned to be released as the second single from the album, but canceled for unspecified reasons. Two of the album's songs were "stripped" in 2009 as part of the three-disc compilation Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection.

Background[edit]

In January 1972, while still a member of the band, Jackson released his first studio album, entitled Got to Be There, under Motown Records.[1] The album received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. The album was not commercially successful worldwide as well as not having a good chart performance on music charts. Although, the album's three singles had a good chart performance on the Billboard Hot 100, with all three charting within the top twenty positions on the chart, with two of them peaking within the top-five.[2] Got to Be There was more successful in the United States than in international territories, having peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard 200[3] while peaking at number thirty-seven in the United Kingdom[4] and one hundred-twenty-one in France.[5]

Music[edit]

Ben was recorded by Jackson from 1971 to 1972. It was produced by six people, and executively produced by Berry Gordy, Jr..[6] Songwriters for the eleven tracks Ben has include, Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, The Corporation, Smokey Robinson, and Ronald White, among others.[6] Ben has R&B, contemporary pop rock and soul musical styles.[7] The album's songs have a tempo ranging from 69 beats per minute on "Ben", to 130 on "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day".[8]

The album's title track, which was the theme song for the 1972 film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat movie Willard), won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. "What Goes Around Comes Around" has similarities to Jackson's older brother Jackie's single, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)",[9] which featured vocals from Jackson and his older brothers.[10] For Ben, Jackson recorded covers of The Temptations' 1964 single, "My Girl", a cover of Lionel Hampton's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", a cover of Brenda Holloway's 1965 single, "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" and a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1968 single, "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day". "My Girl" has a funk rhythm and the song's score includes some call-and-response interaction, which is similar to what Jackson and his brothers displayed in their Jackson 5 material.[7] "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" is a mid-tempo song.[7] "We've Got a Good Thing Going" was previously issued as the B-side to "Got to Be There" '​s "I Wanna Be Where You Are" and "In Our Small Way" was also featured on Jackson's previous album Got to Be There.

Release and reception[edit]

The album was released by Motown Records, his second studio album for the label as a solo artist, in August 1972. As part of promotion for the album, "Ben" was released as the album's lead, and only single in July 1972. "Ben" was a commercial success worldwide, generally charting within the top-10 and top-20 positions on music charts. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, which was Jackson's first, of what would be 13 songs, to top that chart during his career as a solo artist.[2] "Ben" also charted on Billboard '​s Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number three and five.[2] "Ben" charted within the top-10 on the Dutch Top 40 chart, peaking at number two[11] and number seven on the UK Singles Chart,[12] as well as charting at number 14 in Australia.[11] "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was planned to be released as the second single from the album, but was cancelled for unspecified reasons.[13]

Ben was more successful on music charts in both the United States and worldwide compared to Jackson's previous studio album. The album peaked at number five on the United States' Billboard 200; becoming Jackson's first, of what would be six studio albums, to peak within the top ten on that chart.[14] Ben also peaked at number four on the United States' Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[14] On January 13, 1973, Ben debuted on the United Kingdoms' Album Charts at its peak position, number 17.[15] The album remained within the country's music chart's top 50 positions for seven consecutive weeks.[15] On January 1, 1973, the album was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry for shipping 60,000 units across the United Kingdom.[16] After Jackson's death in June 2009, his music experienced a surge in popularity. The album charted on French's music charts on July 25, 2009, at its peak position, number 162.[17] Ben remained within the country's top 200 positions for two consecutive weeks.[17] The album has reportedly sold over five million units worldwide.[18]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly B[19]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[9]

The album generally received mixed to positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Lindsay Planer of Allmusic gave Ben a four out of five star rating.[7] Planer cited "What Goes Around Comes Around' as being "one of Ben '​s better deep cuts" and "Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day" as being a "winner" while describing "In Our Small Way" as being a "lesser note" for the album, having felt that the song contained a "hopelessly dated 'message'".[7] Planer noted that one "interesting shift was the lack of participation from the Motown hitmaking machine known collectively as 'The Corporation'".[7] Vince Aletti of Rolling Stone magazine gave the album a two out of five star rating.[9] Aletti noted that while the album "contains a good deal more original material" it "has nothing as luscious as 'Got to Be There' or 'I Wanna Be Where You Are,'" but, "it's on the whole a much stronger album than the first."[9] He noted that in the album's title track, Jackson had a "surprising amount of feeling" in his vocal performance.[9] Leah Greenblatt, of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B" grade.[19] Greenblatt commented that Ben '​s title track was a "testament to his talent" and added that the album would "always be defined" by that song.[19]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Ben" (recorded January 1972) Walter Scharf, Don Black 2:44
2. "Greatest Show on Earth" (recorded February 1972) Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino 2:48
3. "People Make the World Go 'Round" (recorded January–February 1972) Thom Bell, Linda Creed 3:15
4. "We've Got a Good Thing Going" (recorded December 1971, outtake from Got To Be There sessions) The Corporation [Alphonso Mizell, Berry Gordy Jr., Deke Richards, Freddie Perren] 2:59
5. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" (recorded January–February 1972) Gladys Hampton, Regina Adams, Ace Adams 2:59
6. "My Girl" (recorded January–February 1972) Smokey Robinson, Ronald White 3:08
7. "What Goes Around Comes Around" (recorded December 1971–February 1972) Allen Levinsky, Arthur Stokes, Dana Meyers, Floyd Weatherspoon 3:33
8. "In Our Small Way" (recorded December 1971) Bea Verdi, Christine Yarian 3:39
9. "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" (recorded February 1972) Sylvia Moy, Henry Cosby, Stevie Wonder 3:21
10. "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" (recorded November 1971) Berry Gordy 2:39

Charts and certifications[edit]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "allmusic ((( Got to be There > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "allmusic ((( Michael Jackson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  3. ^ "allmusic ((( Got to be There > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  4. ^ "Michael Jackson - Got To Be There". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  5. ^ "Michael Jackson - Got to Be There (album)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  6. ^ a b c "allmusic ((( Ben > Credits )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Planer, Lindsay. "allmusic (( Ben > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-30. 
  8. ^ The Complete Michael Jackson, International Music Publications Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1859094473
  9. ^ a b c d e Aletti, Vince (1972-12-07). "Michael Jackson : Ben : Music Review : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-30. 
  10. ^ Halstead, pp. 76–94
  11. ^ a b c "Michael Jackson - Ben (chnason)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  12. ^ a b "Michael Jackson - Ben". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  13. ^ Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection, p. 23 Motown Records (2009)
  14. ^ a b c d "allmusic ((( Michael Jackson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  15. ^ a b c "Michael Jackson - Ben". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  16. ^ a b "BPI - Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  17. ^ a b c "Michael Jackson - Ben (album)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  18. ^ Chery, Carl: XXL: Michael Jackson Special Collector's Edition, page 100. American Press.
  19. ^ a b c Greenblatt, Leah (2009-07-03). "Michael Jackson's Albums". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner Inc. Retrieved 2010-04-06. 
  20. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970 - 1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 

Further reading[edit]